Oct 312012

Ah, Fisker Automotive, the manufacturer of electric hybrid automobiles that received a $528 million loan from the FedGov, part of Obama’s “green” energy stimulus. What have they produced? Well, the Fisker Karma seems like a snazzy car… it seems to attain a fuel economy of 26 mpg, and has a sticker price of only $102,000. After “Cash For Clunkers,” how is this not a fantastic deal for your average family looking to trade in that Honda Civic for something more economical in these hard economic times?

Anyway, the Karma has another neat trick beyond costing twenty times what most people can afford while getting little better or actually worse gas mileage. For most gas cars, if you make the blunder of driving into water more than a foot or two deep, your car will up and die on you as water gets drawn into the engine and kills combustion. But the Fisker? Being electric, you don’t need to worry about the engine stalling. No, you will have no such worries about that, because you’ll be too busy trying to abandon ship as your advanced new car bursts into flames and burns down to the waterline:

More Than A Dozen Fisker Karma Hybrids Caught Fire And Exploded In New Jersey Port After Sandy

That’s outstanding.


 Posted by at 5:36 pm
  • doug

    To be fair, pretty much every electric or hybrid is going to do that if you submerge it in salt water.

    • Anonymous

      Then there should be a *lot* of flaming Prius’s.

      • Jordan

        I’ve never heard of a Prius going up in flames after getting wet, nor have I heard of a rocket or X vehicles exploding or catching fire after getting wet.

        Even though the Prius seems to demonstrate reliable Hybrid technology I am not totally convinced it is the way to go.

        • magmonster2002

          What should decide “the way to go” is the market. Which the Prius seems to be taking advantage of quite nicely.

      • doug

        There’s a difference between “getting wet” and submerging a 300 to 500 volt battery in salt water.

        • Anonymous

          Yes, and I’ll repeat my point: there should be a bunch of asploded New York Prius’s (Priuii?), since there were a *lot* of flooded cars in NYC. Statistically there should be a bunch of hybrids in that group.

  • Anonymous

    The money Fisker received was part of a DoE program signed into law in 2007 (by then President Bush) Also, it would seem that of the $528 million granted, only $193 million has been given. The rest was frozen when the company failed to meet milestones.

    Personally, I think they’re f’cked. Between this, other fires, and their battery supplier going bankrupt. But, it would be incorrect to lay this down as $500 mill wasted as another Obama ‘green energy boondoggle’.

    • Anonymous

      > The money Fisker received was part of a DoE program signed into law in 2007


      September 22, 2009
      “US Energy Secretary Chu Announces $528 Million Loan for Advanced Vehicle Technology for Fisker Automotive

      Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced a $528.7 million conditional
      loan for Fisker Automotive for the development of two lines of plug-in
      hybrids that will save hundreds of millions gallons of gasoline and
      offset millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2016. The project
      will result in approximately 5,000 jobs created or saved for domestic
      parts suppliers and thousands more to manufacture a plug-in hybrid in
      the U.S.”


      Pretty much every claim here was dead wrong. Save hundreds of millions of gallons of gas and offset millions of tons of CO2 by 2016? Hell, when you burn the car down to the ground, you release a *lot* of CO2. More when you take into account the replacement costs.

      • Anonymous

        I know the money was given out in 2009, but the money comes from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program which was created by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. It’s Bush-era legislation.

        Are they likely to survive? Probably not. I bet the taxpayers won’t see much if any of that couple hundred million. What percentage of programs financed by the government have delivered on budget and on schedule? Those estimates were based on selling like 15,000 cars. Frankly, I’ll be surprised if they can do it. They were delayed in getting sales going by around 2 years. It sounds like they sold 1,000 unit in Q1 2012, but they don’t appear to be releasing regular sales numbers (I think we know why). The DoE built in milestones that had to be met in order to gain access to the full loan amount. They didn’t meet those milestones, so they didn’t get the full amount (less than half).

        The bigger failure is their battery supplier, A123 systems which filed Chapter 11 a couple of weeks ago. I think they’re on hook for a larger amount.

        • Anonymous

          > It’s Bush-era legislation.

          Kinda irrelevant. The US Army is Washington-era legislation, but if Obama decided to have the Army go plant flowers in the Sahara, that would be all on him. Obama’s team decided to shell out millions to Fisker.

          • Anonymous

            But… you said “part of Obama’s ‘green’ energy stimulus” It’s not. It’s Bush’s ‘green energy’ stimulus. Well, a Democratic Congress’ green energy stimulus, but signed into law by him.

            I guess it depends. If SEAL Team 6 plants the flowers, then it seems to not be Obama’s team really as much as hard working men doing their job. If Obama asks them to plant flowers and he tells everyone about it, then he’s taking credit for something he had nothing to do with.

            If the undersecretary or head poobah of Some Random DOE Group decides to hand out money out from a program set up by a previous administration, then it’s Obama’s decision, his team, his responsibility. I’m sure Steven Chu phones him up personally to OK every loan.

            I agree the investment is crap, and as I read up more on Fisker, the more sketchy it is. And Obama has given out a whoooooole lot of money. It just strikes me as lazy when people I hear people say things like “Obama’s green energy stimulus.”

            EDIT: I’m going to stop this thread. You see it one way, I see it another. We can both talk all night about it. I guess the bigger underlying problem is that when I was younger, I just didn’t care much about politics. I’m getting to an age now where it’s all I hear about now from different people, especially this time of the cycle. I guess what I’ll eventually learn is that any failing is always a problem of people of differing political beliefs and I just have to learn to get used to it and tune it out. Especially in this day and age where news and commentary, especially partisan, is reaching us from all directions.

  • mzungu

    Isn’t it just like how the government paid McD and Boeing, Noth Am. for all these X vehicles that are featured on your site? A lot of these X vehicles crashed and burn up and end up wasting quite a bit of money too on designs that went nowhere. For organization like the DARPA, 95% of their $$ is probably wasted on dead projects…
    R&D is paying to learn how not to build thing. Think you knew that already, no need to put a political
    spin on everything. 🙂

    • Anonymous

      > Isn’t it just like how the government paid McD and Boeing, Noth Am. for all these X vehicles

      No. Not even remotely.

      The Karmas are not “X-Vehicles,” they are commercial products. Now if the government had paid them to install miniaturized experimental fission reactors and to do some basic research on a handful of prototypes, *that* would be a better analogy to the X-planes. But these things are supposed to be road-ready products.

      • Jordan

        As far as a road-ready products someone messed up in there job as a testing engineer.

      • magmonster2002

        A closer analogy would be the government subsidizing the production and sale of the 787.

        • Anonymous

          “The United States acknowledged that Boeing had been found to receive between $3 billion and $4 billion in subsidies in the form of federal research grants and local tax breaks, which is more than the $2.7 billion it conceded originally.”


          Not an all out loan, but a pretty hefty amount. The Europeans are worse though ; P

          Also, I get what mzungu is saying, but like magmonster2002 says, the program expressly says that it is for producing commercial products and is not for R&D.

          • I love how a “tax break” (w aren’t stealin as much as we could!) can be spun into a “subsidy” as if taking less is the same as giving..

      • mzungu

        These X vehicle are commercial products to their manufacturers, and their Government users . X-33 was funded to do commercial launches…Failed. X-34, also suppose to do the same, Failed; How about that Supersonic Transport that the gov. had funded? That was supposed to be commercial. They were all suppose to be ready to fly products with fleets of them.

        • Anonymous

          > X-33 was funded to do commercial launches.

          No, it was not. The X-33 was a *sub-orbital* demonstrator of technologies that could potentially later go into a much larger vehicle, the Venture Star.

  • sferrin

    Raise your hands if you can spot the Obama voters.

  • Note that the Prius, being a parallel hybrid, has one or two smaller batteries. The Karma has a whole bunch of them, and lithium-ion to boot. A Prius is more like a conventional car in that sense than a Karma or Volt, so it’s harder to calculate the “salt water make go boom” threshold.